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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Project 365: Week 22

August 15 - Driving home.

August 16 - Big jump.

August 17 - Literally the only photo I took this day - a blurry snap to show Brian how much of a shadow Cooper was that day.

August 18 - Kiernan's response to me telling him that coffee smells delicious.

August 19 - "Hey Mommy, take a breakfast picture!"

August 20 - Boys & tractors.

August 21 - Raspberry picking.

Monday, August 24, 2015

The very best Oatmeal Cookies in the history of ever.

Do you have a favorite cookie?  Mine is oatmeal reaisin.  I'm kinda weird and really don't care for chocolate chip cookies ... I'll pass 'em up anyday for a nice oatmeal cookie.  I'll even pass 'em altogether if there isn't something else available.  My husband thinks I'm straight crazy.  

Now, I don't discriminate between oatmeal cookies ... I'll eat any one that comes my way.  But my very fave is a nice buttery cookie.  Most oatmeal cookies have at least a little bit of cinnamon, and I'll gladly take that kind off your hands, but my true love is a nice buttery cookie.  

This recipe comes from my parents' neighbor.  She's been blessing us with them for years, and eventually my sister was able to snag the recipe out of her.  And because these are my very favorite cookies in the history of ever, I thought I'd share it with you.  (Pssssst, Kathy ... if this is some secret family recipe, let me know so that I can take it down ;) )

Alright, who's ready to make some cookies?  We start with gathering the goods -  flour, sugar, brown sugar, quick oats, baking powder, salt, raisins, shortening, vanilla, and eggs.  Once you have everything gathered, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  

Add 1 cup of brown sugar (Brown splenda works too!) and 1 cup regular sugar to your bowl.  Top it off with a cup of shortening; I use butter flavored shortening to get that buttery taste to the cookies.  

Mix up your sugars and shortening.  Add 2 eggs and a teaspoon of vanilla and mix some more, til it's nice and smooth.

In a seperate bowl, mix up your dry ingredients: 1 and 1/2 cups of flor, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, and 1 teaspoon of salt.  Seems like a lot of salt, right?  But it ends up being my favorite part of the cookie!

Slowly add your dry ingredients to the creamed mixture.  Have you ever dumped a flour mixture all at once into a moving Kitchenaid?  If so, you'll know why I emphasize the word slowly.  

When the flour mixture is completely combined, it's time to add 3 cups quick oats.  For some reason I don't have a picture of the oats dumped in.  But I do have a picture of them all mixed together...

Once the oats are mixed in, it's time to hand mix in any fixin's you desire.  I prefer raisins, but you could add chocolate chips, nuts, or some other kind of dried fruit.  

Once everything is nice and mixed in, drop rounded spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet and pop them into your preheated oven.  

Bake them for about 12 minutes, until they have a little golden tinge to them.  

Leave them on the sheet to cool for a couple of minutes before you move them to a cooling rack.

Then, you know, maybe sample a warm cookie before they get too cool.  Not all cookies are great warm cookies, but these are delicious.

And they're just as good cooled off.  They are the perfect mix of buttery, salty, and sweet.  

I usually prefer my cookies a little underdone, but I really like these with a little crunch on the outside and chewy on the inside.  So, so good.

These photos are making my mouth water, so I'm off to make batch!

Here's the condensed recipe for you...

1 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 cups quick oats
Optional raisins, chocolate chips, nuts, etc

Cream together sugars and shortening.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.  Combine dry ingredients.  Mix dry ingredients into creamed mixture.  Add oats.  Stir in optional raisins, chocolate chips, nuts, or whatever you'd like.  Drop onto ungreased sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 12 minutes.  Leave on sheet to cool for 2 minutes before removing to cooling rack.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Project 365: Week 21

Just a few photos from our vacation last week!

August 8 - The Bridge.

August 9 - Swingin'.

August 10 - Beautiful morning.

August 11 - Brother beachwalk.

August 12 - Mountaintop sitting.

August 13 - Buried.

August 14 - Relaxing.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Do you have a cookie recipe that reminds you of childhood?  You know, the one that your Mom made on the regular; that just smells like home?  For me, it's Chocolate Chocolate Chip cookies.  I loved them as a kid, and I love making them for my boys.  Actually, they are so easy to make that it's one of my favorite things to make with my boys!

These cookies have the shortest ingredient list ever!  You'll need:

A box of Devil's Food cake mix (or really any dark chocolate cake)
2 eggs
1 stick butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp flour (if necessary)
6 oz. chocolate chips

First step, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Now onto the good stuff.... dump roughly half of the bag of cake mix into a bowl.  I take my hand and squeeze the bag of mix in half.  Yep, fancy.  

Next, add your softened butter, both eggs, and the vanilla.  I can't be the only one in the world that doesn't measure vanilla, right?  I just squeeze in whatever looks like enough.  

Then mix it up nice and smooth.  And then you should probably taste it.  You know, to make sure that it's working out OK.  

Now, grab the rest of your cake mix and slowly mix it into the batter.  It'll get thicker, so you'll probably have to taste it again.  It's all about quality control.  

When my Mom used to make the original recipe, the cookies often came out a bit flat.  So over the year she learned that a couple of tablespoons of flour helped fluff them up a bit.  When you add the flour, add your chips!  I had jumbo on hand, so I dumped in a handful or 2.  

Give 'em a good mix and plop 'em a few inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.  I REALLY love my Pampered Chef cookie scoop!  Pop 'em in the oven for 10-12 minutes.  

I used my Airbake sheets because they're prettier than my other ones, but I wouldn't recommend doing so.  Classic "Do as I say, not as I do".  I have a love/hate relationship with Airbake.  Sometimes I just don't like the texture of cookies baked on them.

When they're done, they'll still be a bit soft in the middle.  Like, you'll almost think that they aren't done.  Trust me, take them out!  Then let them sit on the cookie sheet for a couple of minutes before removing them to a baking rack to cool.  

They usually aren't quite so fluffy, which I prefer.  But the Airbakes did something weird.  I prefer them a tiny bit flatter, but they were still fudgy and delish.

So once they are a little cool, you should probably taste test them one more time.  I mean, it's really best to be thorough.  

I love when they're cool, but the chocolate chips are still a bit warm, so they're nice and creamy.

The inside is dense, but not too heavy.  The boys call them "Brownie Cookies", and they definitely remind me of brownies as well.  This is probably why I like them so much!  Gather up your kiddos and whip up a batch.  I promise you won't regret it.  And if you do, let me know how it goes!

Here's the whole recipe in one shot to make it a little easier:

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Box Devil's Food cake mix
1 stick butter, softened
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp flour
6 oz chocolate chips

Beat together half cake mix, butter, eggs, and vanilla.  Gradually add the remaining cake mix.  Stir in flour and chocolate chips.  Drop by tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.  Cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes before removing to rack.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Project 365: Week 20

I tried to do a few different things with my camera this week.  The moon was too beautiful not to photograph, so I decided to give it my all.  It took lots of tweaking and I wasn't really even sure I'd nailed the shot until I got it onto the computer.  So pretty!  I'll be interested to see how it prints!

August 1 - Stunning.

August 2 - Splash

August 3 - Swings.

August 4 - Volcano.

August 5 - Scenery.

 August 6 - Riding buddies.

August 7 - Gettin' dizzy.